A Filipino trans woman named Pat shared her experience under Japanese immigration authorities with Buzzfeed News Japan last Jun. 18. Through facility visits, reporter Sumireko Tomita was able to detail her experiences of isolation and discrimination. Twenty-eight-year-old Pat was arrested last year for remaining in Japan after her residency status expired. She was brought to an immigration facility where violators are detained before being deported.
Tomita’s visits led to Pat sharing her struggles inside the detention facility. Pat says that because of her gender identity, she has faced discrimination and unfair treatment. Because she is a trans woman, she is not housed with female detainees. She also isn’t housed with the men—she has been isolated from the rest of the camp for a year now. Her room is cramped, with the toilet only just a few steps away from the bed. Detainees are also given six hours of free time every day but for no apparent reason, Pat is only given two hours.
Pat showed Tomita her diary and an excerpt from that says, “I’m always alone and thinking of dying.” Tomita was also able to get Pat’s drawing of her room. In the drawing, Pat is depicted to be crying, with the words “alone” and “transgender” on the page.
In a conversation with BuzzFeed News, Pat says, “I’m having a hard time isolating like this now, but this is a problem with immigration detention facilities, and transgender people who will be detained in immigration may have the same experience. But now I’m calling out to improve my understanding of LGBT and transgender immigration.”
Aside from isolation, Pat is also struggling with the interruption of her hormonal treatment. She has been on hormone therapy for six years but since she’s been detained, she hasn’t been able to get proper treatment and medication. In her diary, she writes, “I am a trans person who is currently transitioning, so I need hormone drugs. If I don’t take hormone drugs suddenly, my body will go crazy.”
Although Pat is suffering greatly inside Japan’s detention facility, she is still afraid of getting deported and going back to live in the Philippines. “In the Philippines, it is difficult to live as a transgender woman. [I am afraid] of transgender discrimination from Philippine society.”
Medium reports that Nami Nanami, a Japanese activist, is currently working on shedding light on Pat’s case. Activist group Smash Nyukan Tokyo is also planning to stage a protest to call for proper treatment for Pat, or Pato-chan as they call her, as well as the other immigrants detained in Japan.
In the Philippines, 20 LGBTQ+ individuals and allies were arrested for staging a Pride protest on the last week of Pride Month. Discussions about trans women joining traditional pageants also made noise on social media last week when trans pageant queen Kevin Balot said that trans women are “asking for too much” by joining these pageants.